Reed City's Wirth headed to Ferris for XC, track

Recent Reed City High School graduate Brandon Wirth signs his National Letter of Intent for cross country and track at Ferris State University on Thursday. With him are Reed City cross country coaches Susan and Rich Saladin.

REED CITY — From soccer to cross county to baseball, Brandon Wirth ran the gamut of sports in high school.

The recent Reed City High School graduate even dual-sported for a while, competing in both soccer and cross country in the fall.

Wirth eventually settled on cross country and, needless to say, it's worked out pretty well.

He signed his Letter of Intent Thursday surrounded by friends and family members to be a part of the cross country and track teams at Ferris State University beginning this fall.

"I loved the atmosphere at Ferris State and their team was so welcoming to me," Wirth said. "Being very close to home, it'll help me progress toward becoming an independent person.

"I'll see all of my old teammates, too, because they mean so much to me and (Reed City's) program means the world to me."

Reed City cross county coach Rich Saladin is happy to see Wirth find his perfect fit.

"We started coaching him his sophomore year and he dual-sported," Saladin said. "He did soccer and ran cross country with us on days he didn't have soccer.

"I'm glad he chose running as his love and that's what he's focused on. Brandon is a wonderful athlete and he's a 4.0 student. He's the perfect role model for the perfect student-athlete. I'm glad he's chosen to go closer to home, too, so we get to see him at meets and cheer him on."

Wirth hooked up with Ferris State's coach at a meet last September and the interest level between the two went from there. He looked at a couple of other GLIAC schools and also at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids before choosing Ferris State.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge," Wirth said. "They have a good team and it doesn't look like it on paper but that's because they're pretty young."

Ferris State finished 10th in the GLIAC Championships last November and then took 21st overall in the NCAA Division II Midwest Region Championships at Hillsdale College.

The Bulldogs are coached by Jared Kelsh who will be entering his fifth year at the program's helm this fall.

Wirth heads to Ferris State with a 5K personal-best time of 16:16. That came as a junior at an MHSAA Division 3 regional at Benzie Central. He ran a 16:23 at Benzie this past year and then took 10th overall at the MHSAA Division 3 State Finals in 16:29.

While running has become his love, Wirth played baseball during the spring at Reed City instead of competing in track and field.

"I liked baseball and the guys I played with," he said. "I loved to pitch and that was one thing I wanted to be good at."

That changes now, though, as he looks for a specialty in track.

"I love the competitive edge of running that not everybody can be good at it," Wirth added. "I push myself out there to set goals and when you have a loving team that's behind you, it makes it so much better.

"I'll be looking at anything from the 10K to the 5K to steeplechase to the 1,500. It's basically trial-and-error to see what I like (in track)."

Wirth plans on majoring in sports communication at Ferris State.

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